Derived from the Greek word kólla which means “glue”, collagen is a major structural protein found throughout the human body – in bones, tendons, corneas, skin, cartilage, muscles, blood vessels, and the digestive system.
Though there are at least 16 types of collagen, the most abundant in the body are types 1, 2, and 3. While type 2 is great for building cartilage and supporting joint health, types 1 and 3 are responsible for strengthening connective tissues, wound healing, and keeping skin structures strong, smooth, and elastic. Amino acids found within these collagen types, such as proline and glycine, support the functioning of cells and boost the body’s ability to produce its own collagen.
As we age, however, the amount of collagen our bodies produce slows down substantially. The telltale signs of aging – wrinkles and sagging skin – are part and parcel of lack of collagen in the body.
Thankfully, collagen stores can be replenished by eating foods rich in this protein. Vegetables high in vitamin C, dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, foods plentiful in omega fatty acids and soy are believed to stimulate the body’s ability to generate collagen, but do not contain collagen in and of themselves.
Pure collagen can only be sourced from the skins, tendons, ligaments, and marrow of animals. You can make collagen-rich broth from stewing bones, or use a dietary supplement, like collagen peptides and gelatin protein, which can be added to an array of delicious recipes to boost the collagen content of your meals.
1. Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth
An easy (and frugal) way to get your collagen fix, bovine collagen is particularly rich in skin nourishing proteins and amino acids. It is plentiful in types 1 and 3 collagen, which aid in repairing fine lines and wrinkles while improving skin elasticity. Drink it alone or add it to soups, gravies, and sauces.
Get the recipe from the Healthy Foodie.
2. Broth Burgers
A much better way to serve up hamburgers, these are made by simmering beef, turkey, or chicken rounds in bone broth until the sauce has reduced and thickened. It’s a tasty way to add a healthy dose of beef collagen to your meal, no bun needed.
Find the recipe at Just Take a Bite.
3. Healthy Homemade Jello
Made with pure beef gelatin, this homemade jello is a healthful snack that contains real fruit juice with no added sugars.
The full instructions are at Detoxinista.
4. Raspberries & Cream Protein Milkshake
Thick and rich, this protein shake is chock full of things to ensure you feel full and satisfied as you begin (or end) your day. Heavy cream, plain yogurt, and raspberries with a whipped cream topping, it’s a downright pleasurable way to restore your youthful appearance thanks to the welcome addition of collagen peptides.
Get the recipe from Colorful Eats.
5. Barbeque Chicken Flatbread Pizza
Proponents of the Paleo diet need not forgo the pizza! Made from scratch – and prepped and baked in just 30 minutes – the piece de resistance in this flatbread pizza is gelatin, which holds the crust together for a crunchy-chewy texture.
Recipe via the Curious Coconut.
6. Homemade Fish Scale Jelly
Not only do the omega-3 fatty acids in fish help to boost the body’s inborn ability to make collagen, fish scales are ripe with its own supply of type 1 collagen proteins and amino acids. To make a jelly that can be added to soups and sauces, thoroughly wash fish scales to remove the fishy odor. Simmered or slow cooked for several hours, add in some pandan leaves to neutralize the smell as well as red dates and dried longan for flavor and to boost antioxidant content.
Get the instructions from Baking’s Corner.
7. Eggshell Calcium
If you’ve been saving eggshells for your garden, you might want to set some aside for yourself! While eggshells are indeed abundant in calcium – which we know is good for teeth, bones, and muscles – the outer shell and thin inner membrane are good sources of type 1 collagen. First boiled and then baked, eggshells can be pulverized in a blender to make a fine powder. Use it to supplement your meals by adding a teaspoon or less to sauces or other liquids.
See how it’s done at Mama Natural.
8. Homemade Gummy Bears
Instead of high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and food coloring, these homemade gummy bears are made with pure fruit juice, organic honey, and beef gelatin. Make them in orange, strawberry, and blueberry flavors, and if you don’t happen to have a gummy bear mold, you can get one here.
Recipe from DIY Natural.
9. Luscious Lemon Tarts
Using coconut flour in lieu of wheat, this tart treat is gluten, grain, and dairy free. The lemon curd is thickened with beef gelatin, so you can have your dessert with a side a glowing skin too.
Get the recipe from Savory Lotus.
10. Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Cabbage, along with other cruciferous vegetables, contains the antioxidant lutein which boosts the body’s ability to produce collagen. And because this stuffed cabbage rolls recipe involves simmering in hearty beef bone broth, it provides two worthy ways to increase your collagen levels.
Get the recipe from Delicious Obsessions.
11. Sunbutter Chocolate Collagen Protein Bars
Made without nuts, eggs, dairy, or artificial sweeteners, this Paleo-friendly energy bar is a great source of protein, antioxidants, and good fats. The buttery-smooth filling is an amalgam of sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, and vanilla, with a dash of collagen peptides, and is finished with a yummy chocolaty coating.
Recipe via Cook It Up Paleo.
12. Honey Banana Protein Pancakes
Enriched with a few scoops of collagen peptides, toss all the ingredients in a blender (liquids first) for quick and easy protein-packed breakfast.
Get the recipe at Vital Proteins.
13. Slow Cooker Caveman Chili
Set it and forget it with this meat and veggie chili, guaranteed to fill you up on those chilly days and rejuvenate the skin since it’s stewed in a beautifying beef bone broth.
See how it’s done at Recipes to Nourish.
14. Shepherd’s Pie
Another hearty comfort food for the meat and potatoes crowd, shepherd’s pie is classic old world fare that’s surprisingly simple to prepare.
From This is so Good.
15. Coconut Panna Cotta
A guilt-free dessert option, panna cotta is an Italian pudding that’s made with just five ingredients: full fat coconut milk, raw honey, vanilla, seasonal berries, and beef gelatin to hold it all together.
Get the recipe at Deliciously Organic.
16. Roasted Carrot Soup
Carrots and other bright orange vegetables are an excellent source of lycopene and beta-carotene antioxidants, which work together to promote healthy skin. Add to that a few heaping tablespoons of collagen peptides and you’ll have yourself a truly skin restoring and anti-aging soup.
Recipe via Further Food.
17. Merlot Reduction Sauce
A versatile sauce you can add to an array of meat dishes, all you need to make this rich sauce is beef bone broth, merlot wine, butter, shallots, thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Make it ahead of time by freezing the finished sauce in ice cube trays and popping one out when you’re ready to get cooking.
See the recipe at Holistic Squid.
18. Creamy Roasted Pumpkin & Apple Bisque
A nutrient-dense soup to be sure, it has loads of things that do a body good: pumpkin, apples, ghee, coconut oil, pure maple syrup, cloves, and garlic. Between all these antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber, it is appropriately dosed with marine collagen peptides, which carries many benefits for the skin as well as the body.
Recipe from Mind Body Green.
19. Butter Coffee
We’ve sung the praises of adding butter to coffee before, and this recipe really elevates the standard mug of joe. And it’s super easy, just add a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil to a steaming cup of coffee, a sprinkle of cinnamon and maca powder, and last but not least, a tablespoon of collagen peptides.
Get the full details from Root and Revel.
20. Vegetable Beef Soup
An oldie but a goodie, this soup is a medley of lean beef, carrots, celery, potatoes, and garlic, heartened with 8 cups of broth. For a super skin-saving slurp, try adding as many of these collagen-boosting veggies as you can!
See how it’s done at Gimme Some Oven.